Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Gordan Runyan
Religion columnist 

Time to think rightly about disaster

 

September 13, 2017 | View PDF



There are few things more human than our tendency to ask, “Why me?” in response to suffering, tragedy, or calamity.

We see it asked and answered several times in the Bible, specifically in the books of Job, Psalms, and Proverbs.

Jesus Christ dealt with another common response to disaster. In Luke 13:1-5, people came to him to report a contemporary incident, in which the Roman governor, Pilate, had killed some Galilean Jews at the Temple, causing their blood to be “mingled” with that of their slaughtered sacrifices. (13:1.) In responding to that story, Christ mentioned another one: Eighteen people in Siloam lost their lives in the collapse of a tower. (13:4.)

His teaching regarding those incidents (one, an instance of brutal tyranny, and the other a tragic accident) is identical. He urges us not to think one way, and to begin to think another.

In both examples, Jesus warned his listeners not to begin to think that the victims were worse sinners than all the sinners around them. They must be especially bad, since God allowed this to happen to them, right? Wrong.

We have a whole flock of people right now, ranging from television preachers to Hollywood liberals, taking to whatever media will hear them, explaining that they know why God has sent hurricanes to ravage Texas and Florida.

This is exactly the attitude Jesus warned against. Don’t suppose that these perished because they were worse sinners in some way. He denies that twice in Luke 13:3 and 13:5.

I notice that no one who is going through tragedy is terribly quick to declare which of their own sins they are being punished for. If it’s your house that the storm knocks down, I can speculate all day long about what you did to anger God. But when it hits me, I’m crying, “Wait just a second! This can’t be right!”

The Bible doesn’t place sinners like us into categories, where you’ve got the regular sinners over here, and then the really bad ones over there (and they’re the ones who ought to consider hurricane insurance.) Instead, Scripture teaches a doctrine called Total Depravity. All of us are sinners, whose sin deserves punishment. (Romans 3:23 and 6:23.)

Jesus tells how we ought to think when we hear news of tragedy. Again, he repeats the thought twice. He says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3, 5)

Faced with tragic, shocking, or horrifying news of suffering, our first thought should not be, “Wow. I wonder what they were messing with.”

It ought to be, “You know, my own sins deserve death as well. It’s kind of incredible that God has been so patient with me. I should get my act together and seek the Lord. Like, right now.”

Concerning the tragedies we have suffered recently, both nationally and locally, one good thing that has happened is we’ve seen people band together, as neighbors gave of themselves to help their neighbors.

Theologians call this “common grace.” For this, we ought to be thankful to God.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

reformnm@yahoo.com

 

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